Tradition holds strong and for the 40th year, Main Street, awash with red, white and blue, was lined with crowds cheering on and waving as the parade made its short, but important, way from one end of town to the other.
The first “official” Clayton July 4 celebration was in 1896 when “A Cordial Invitation” was extended to all for a “1776-4th of July Grand Celebration.”
In 1973, a group of residents resurrected the tradition with a July 4 celebration in the eucalyptus grove at the east end of Main Street – what is now The Grove park. Those celebrations were all day family events that included old-fashioned games and food supplied by local eateries. Senator John Nejedly was Grand Marshall in the 1973 event and the parade kicked off with a bicycle contingent followed by the local horsemen, 4-H clubs, scout troops and other local clubs.
“The parade was so short,” writes Elaine Evans in the history of the event, “that some thought participants should turn around and come around a second time.”
The only thing that has really changed over the years is the length. Food is still a big part of the day, starting early with the Clayton Valley Sunrise Rotary Club’s pancake breakfast at Endeavor Hall.
Kids on bikes and trikes, on scooters and in strollers along with their dressed up family dogs lead the parade as usual. But this year, they were followed by 42 more entries that included local dignitaries in convertibles, a collection of mouth-watering Corvettes, veterans groups, scout troops, clubs and merchants all waving flags and celebrating “Community and Country.”